I’ve always felt a quite paternal towards Eastbourne. In 2005 I took a long and pointless trip to the coast to watch us play them in the FA Cup. It was the pointlessness that appealed; to win would have been a shrug of the shoulders; to lose would have been a miserable embarrassment.
In the end, ironically, we drew. A moment of class from Steve Basham was followed by a twice taken penalty for the hosts that was greeted by the locals as if they’d just seen a giant mechanical bird in the sky. With 10 minutes to go they introduced Yemi Odubade to wild applause and much waving of pitchforks. They loved the ‘little foreign fellow’.
Yemi ran us ragged in the replay and Basham got a hat-trick which raised talk that he was finally going to fill his boots with goals. He didn’t. Again. I patronised Borough with thoughts of being a well run club that was sweet and parochial but would never trouble us in a meaningful way.
We met them yesterday as peers, but really only in name. They had no more than 60 in the stands and some players that would have looked out of place in a pub team. We looked a class apart.
But this is the talk that’s driving Chris Wilder mad, and he has a point, but whether marching the team off after the game was a good idea is yet to be seen. There seems to be a feeling by some that the manager shouldn’t get in the way of the relationship between the fans and the team. Somehow they both deserved the love-in at the end. If we wobble in the next couple of weeks then Wilder could be seen as the Yoko in the relationship. If the streak continues then he’ll be pronounced as a tactical genius. Personally, I think he’s right; it’s his team and his job is on the line. He needs as much freedom as possible to get the job done; if he thinks the players are letting standards slip and if he feels that mutual masturbation with the fans will reinforce the complacency, then he has the right to take them aside and give them a rollocking.